Complaint Accuses Oakland Police Chief of Making False Statements About ICE Operation

NBC Bay Area

The chair of Oakland's privacy advisory commission and seven other people have filed a complaint alleging that Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick made false statements about an immigration raid in August.

The complaint, which privacy commission chair Brian Hofer and the others filed with Oakland's Citizens Police Review Board on Monday, alleges that Kirkpatrick made at least three false statements about an operation by Homeland Security Investigations, which is part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), in West Oakland on the morning of Aug. 16.

Hoyer said at least two Oakland police officers assisted ICE during the raid by blocking off the street to through traffic.

Kirkpatrick said the officers helped ICE because the agency told her that it was carrying out a criminal search and federal search warrant related to a human trafficking case.

The operation began at about 6:30 a.m. on Aug. 16 in the 700 block of 27th Street near West Street and law enforcement officers were at the scene for hours.

Oakland is a Sanctuary City but Kirkpatrick said ICE asked for assistance from the Oakland Police Department.

According to the complaint, Kirkpatrick defended her department's actions at a town hall meeting on Sept. 6, saying that one person had been charged in connection with the Aug. 16 raid.

But the complaint says that no one had been charged with a crime as of Sept. 6 and that is still the case now.

According to the complaint, Kirkpatrick also said at the Sept. 6 meeting that the Aug. 16 didn't involve a deportation matter.

However, the complaint says that a person who was arrested in the operation in August is now facing a civil deportation case.

The complaint also alleges that Kirkpatrick made false statements about the timing of Oakland's termination of its agreement with ICE.

The Oakland City Council voted unanimously on July 18 to terminate an agreement that had allowed Oakland police officers to work on task forces headed by ICE.

Kirkpatrick said the agreement with ICE was ended before the Aug. 16 raid.

But the complaint says Kirkpatrick and ICE officials didn't actually terminate the agreement until Sept. 25.

Hofer said the complaint against Kirkpatrick will be investigated both by the Citizens Police Review Board and by the Oakland Police Department's internal affairs division. He said there's no deadline for the investigations to be completed.

Hofer also said the Oakland City Council's Public Safety Committee will hold a hearing on Nov. 14 on the Police Department's assistance to ICE during the Aug. 16 raid.

Among the other people who filed the complaint against Kirkpatrick are the Rev. J. Alfred Smith Jr. the senior pastor of the Allen Temple Baptist Church in East Oakland, and Tracy Rosenberg, the executive director of Media Alliance.

Kirkpatrick wasn't immediately available for comment and police spokeswoman Johnna Watson said, "The department is unable to discuss internal affairs allegations/complaints."

Watson referred to a statement the Police Department released back on Aug. 16 which said, "Chief Kirkpatrick gave strict instructions to the commander and officers that they may not assist HSI (Homeland Security Investigations) with any enforcement efforts. The officers' only role was that of traffic control and neighborhood safety."

The department's statement in August said, "HSI is conducting a criminal investigation, not a civil immigration or deportation action" and said the unit that was conducting the raid "focuses on transnational gangs, human trafficking, human smuggling, child exploitation and narcotics enforcement."

Watson also released an Oct. 6 statement by Ryan Spradlin, the special agent in charge for HSI's San Francisco office in which he said, "Chief Kirkpatrick has been truthful in her statements about the nature of the ongoing HSI investigation and OPD's involvement."

Spradlin said, "The operation in question involved the execution of a search warrant as part of an ongoing criminal investigation - not a civil immigration investigation. Furthermore, as the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, HSI does not conduct 'raids.'"

Spradlin said, "Because safety is HSI's chief concern during operations, our special agents regularly request assistance from local law enforcement personnel to provide support for officer and public safety. Local law enforcement is best suited for this, as they have an established relationship with the community and knowledge regarding local traffic patterns and other logistical considerations."

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